The family of killer Michael Ridley who ended the life of hero soldier Staff Sgt Chris Chacksfield with one-punch have apologised to his family after revealing their own personal tragedy.

Michael’s parents, Michael senior and Sheila, and his aunt Yvonne Pacitti, told how the unsolved murder of Michael’s uncle, Sean, who was beaten to death more than six years ago in a street attack, urged him to admit his crime as he realised the heartache he had caused after seeing his own family going through so much pain.

Yvonne, 48, Michael senior’s twin, said: “We have been in the same situation as Adele and her family. Sean was killed in an incident six years ago and we have been through hell.

“This is why Michael pleaded guilty. He took full responsibility because he did not want to prolong the situation for Chris’s family.

“He knows what they are going through because he has been there himself. He is so, so remorseful.

“Our family has been through so much over the past six years. We are still trying to seek justice as Sean’s killer was not jailed and that is difficult for our family and now this with Michael. We can’t say how sorry we are.”

“What Michael did was out of character and he has to live with this forever.

He is not a thug but did take drugs and alcohol on that night.

"We are a good Catholic family and are against things like this, but Michael took them and it ended the way it did."

Chris, 31, dad to three-year-old Sophia, had served in in Iraq, Afghanistan and twice in the Balkans and had gone on a rare night out in Newcastle with his wife Adele, an Army Nurse, as she had not long returned from Afghanistan and he was based at the Albermarle Barracks, in Northumberland on a two-week training exercise.

They were walking along Newgate Street when Michael, 22, who was under the influence of cocaine and alcohol, launched an unprovoked attack after the pair accidentally bumped each other as they passed.

Chris was knocked out and fell and hit his head on a pavement, suffering catastrophic injuries and died three days later in hospital.

Michael, a former steel worker of Elswick, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Chris and unlawful wounding of Adele. He was jailed for five years.

The Ridley family said they had suffered a 'similar' case.

They have been fighting for justice after a Crown Court case saw the man accused of killing Sean acquitted.

Sean, 38, was beaten up outside his girlfriend’s house in Sovereign Court, Elswick, on January 30, 2004, and died from head injuries.

No-one has been convicted, and the Ridley family say they can never come to terms with his death while the killer is on the loose.

The attack followed a night out at the Balmoral pub on Westgate Road.

Michael Newton was accused of killing the dad-of-two.

But when Judge David Hodson heard the case, he directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict because of the lack of evidence.

Prosecutors claimed Newton punched Sean to the ground then kicked and stamped on his head.

Newton admitted his involvement to police, but maintained others had caused Sean’s fatal injuries. No-one else was charged and police admitted mistakes were made during the investigation.

Today Michael’s parents, Michael senior, 48, and Sheila, 46, said their son deeply regrets what he’s done.

Michael senior said: “Michael and his family would like to pass on their condolences to Chris’s wife, daughter, family and friends. Their deepest sympathies are with them.

“We think about Chris Chacksfield and his wife Adele and daughter Sofia all the time.

“Michael has to live with this for the rest of his life. He is not a thug as he is portrayed in the Press.

“He is not a boxer and has never been a boxer but he does like to keep fit.

He is a hard-working and sensitive young man, who on the evening of May 31 acted completely out of character.

“He’s always been in employment and was actually going to start a new job the following day on June 1.

“He’s a very smart and sensitive young man, he’s an absolute pleasure to know, anyone who knows Michael would say the same, hence the ‘impressive’, as Judge Esmond Faulks put it, character references.

“Michael pleaded guilty immediately and has taken full responsibility for his actions that night. He is so remorseful and all of our family are so sorry this happened.

“We are all still grieving for Sean and we have been in this situation ourselves. Our hearts go out to them.”

Adele said she was disappointed with the sentence.

She added: “It doesn’t seem fair but I do believe he will get his comeuppance in the end.

“Chris was a gentle giant, he loved life and was a placid gentleman, he had no enemies and everyone liked him. It’s such a shock someone would want to do that to him.”

Richard Bloomfield, defending, said: “He (Ridley) accepts full responsibility for causing the death and he has expressed a great deal of remorse and empathy and is struggling to come to terms with the fact he has caused a man to die.”